S8:E11 On the last episode of The Office — over a month ago! — we saw Regional Manager Andy trying to make everyone’s Christmas wishes come true. On this week’s episode, the ‘Nard Dog is trying to make corporate’s wishes come true, and enlisting everyone’s help to do so. Everyone except for Dwight, that is, who, as is typically the case, pursues his own agenda. The episode overall continues the show’s trend of silliness over the more subtle comedy featured in earlier seasons, but again proves that these writers can make silliness work. Sometimes.
“There is infinity of things you can do with paper.” -Andy
Andy, eager as ever to please both his superiors and inferiors — that’s corporate and his co-workers-turned-employees, respectively — tries to sell the gang on paper. Literally. See, the end of the fiscal quarter is imminent (read: today) and the office is $830 shy of meeting the sales-growth goal set forth by Robert California. Andy simply cannot continue to buy large quantities of the company’s paper with his own money to try and reach the goal, and no one else is biting after he implores them in a meeting to do just that. Asking the accounting team to fudge the numbers also proves fruitless, as Kevin is willing but really unable and Oscar is just unwilling. But when Oscar tells Andy about a trivia contest he’s attending in Philadelphia, at which the prize is $1,000 … well, into his head pops a golden-ticket idea: Bring everyone from the office, have some fun, and, oh yeah, split up into teams to try and win that prize and spend the money on Dunder-Mifflin Sabre paper to meet the sales-growth goal! Naturally, Jim, Daryl and the others don’t need much coaxing to go on the field trip. Once at the gay bar — much to the surprise, disappointment and mortification of an unwitting Oscar — everyone splits into teams, with the grouping of Jim, Daryl, Ryan and Andy seemingly the front runners and the only ones really taking the contest seriously. Funnily enough, though — especially after Ryan leaves because of phone-separation anxiety — the group bearing the ironic name the Einsteins (Kevin, Meredith, Erin and Kelly) emerges victorious.
“I saw an ad on the Sabre Web site for an open position in their printers division. I spoke to Robert California about it, and he said for me to come by and see him some time. So, like a Spanish conquistador, I have come to Florida to claim what is rightfully mine.” -Dwight
Dwight isn’t much concerned with the office’s extracurricular activities or its fiscal problems. Dwight is concerned with Dwight. As such — and as referenced in the above quote — he heads down to see about a manager position at Sabre headquarters in Florida, where he finds one of his army of office enemies, Gabe (the lanky onetime boyfriend of Erin works there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and in Scranton on Tuesdays and Thursdays) as well as a surprised Robert, who clearly doesn’t know that when Dwight hears “come by and see me some time,” he takes it literally and acts on it. Robert pawns Dwight off first to Sabre’s COO and then to Gabe. Poor Gabe. During Dwight’s pitch meeting, Dwight literally twists Gabe’s arm into showing him where Robert lives. When they arrive at Robert’s condo, and Gabe’s arm is finally freed Dwight’s beet-picking hands, Robert emerges, dressed in sweaty workout attire, and invites them up to his apartment — where the CEO and COO have been engaged in a living-room wrestling match. Dwight finally tells Robert why he’s the right man for the job; Robert indulges Dwight, then tells him his drive and ambition would be wasted and that he wouldn’t want to live in Florida, “America’s basement” (at which this native Floridian more than chuckled, but I digress), and offers Dwight instead a medal passed down from his grandfather. Surprisingly, Dwight rejects the medal of honor and walks out.
All in all, not a whole lot happened in the episode, and that’s a bit of a problem when the episode isn’t exactly hilarious. We know we’re at that point in the season — the dead middle — where there won’t some big reveal or story-arc shift, and where the writers/showrunners need to string us along and tease us more than shock us with a “Michael is leaving!”-type announcement. That’s all fine, but what are we to take away from tonight’s episode? That Dwight, now disgruntled even more, is on the hunt for a new job? (Doubtful. He does this sorta thing from time to time.) That Andy is still not comfortable and/or in complete control? Please. Surprise us, writers — even if it’s something in the relationship department. And turn our snickers into laughs again. Although there were a few very funny moments in this episode, like the opening scene, in which Kevin breaks the office-wide silent game by biting into a Three Musketeers and letting out the obligatory “Oh, yeah.” Or when Kelly, not Jim, knows the answer to a basketball-related trivia question because of his association with Khloe Kardashian and, in turn, Dancing with the Stars. Fine, maybe it was a step-in-right-direction episode. Now we need a leap …